Wild turkeys rebounding in state, commission hears


LITTLE ROCK — Wild turkeys, on the decline for more than a decade in Arkansas, show signs of rebounding, according to a report Thursday to the state Game and Fish Commission.

Jason Honey, the wildlife-agency’s turkey program coordinator, reported improved nesting success this year, but caution, “One year of good reproduction won’t change everything.”

Turkey numbers began to slip on 1999, and a series of poor hatches in the following years led to reduced takes by hunters and also to shorter hunting seasons and the elimination of the fall turkey season.

Honey also noted the spring 2013 turkey hunt could show a drop in the number of birds taken by hunters because of the poor reproduction in 2011, largely due to extensive flooding in the state.

“A drop in harvest is possible because of the lack of 2-year-old birds,” Honey said.

However, Henry said the ratio of poults — baby turkeys — to hens is the best since 2002.

Biologists have also noted an increase in the number of hens with poults.

Honey outlined several turkey research projects under way or upcoming to find means to turn around the population drops. Research is being done in other states that have experienced similar declines in turkey numbers.

Also Thursday, the commission approved spending $159,000 for engineering work on the renovation of Dam No. 3 on the Spring River near Mammoth Spring. The dam helps supply water to the agency’s trout hatchery at the site.

The panel approved construction of a boat access facility at the Promise Land area of Bull Shoals Lake in Marion County. The cost is estimated at $45,630.

Purchase of two 40-acre in-holdings at Harold E. Alexander Wildlife Management Area in Sharp County was approved. The price is $120,000 for the 80 acres, the appraised value of the land, according to Dale Gunter, chief of engineering and ecological services for the agency.